Local residents voice opinions on bin Laden

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Staff
mharrell@starhq.com

  
Some say President Bush committed political suicide by proclaiming that he wanted Osama bin Laden "dead or alive." Critics believe that if the president fails to produce bin Laden for Americans that it will hurt his career just as his father's image was tarnished after his failed attempts at Saddam Hussein. Politics aside, some people in Elizabethton are concerned only that the president carry out his quest for bin Laden.
   In order to get the pulse of the community, we randomly selected five individuals and asked them for their opinions on Osama bin Laden. All of those questioned were fairly confident that the leader of the terrorist group responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks is very much alive. As a veteran of WWII, Billie McCloud offered an interesting perspective. "I think that bin Laden is hiding over there in the mountains of some other country," McCloud said. "I was in seven battles in WWII and was off the coast of Japan when they dropped both atomic bombs. President Roosevelt did not put up with any bull and I think we should have dropped A-bombs in Afghanistan right after it happened."
   If found, the residents would like to see bin Laden brought to justice for his actions but each had a different idea on what kind of justice he deserved. While some think bin Laden deserves an American trial, others believe a more direct approach is appropriate. "I think he should be prosecuted in America by Americans," Noble McNeal stated.
   Others believe the terrorist is undeserving of the American right to be tried by a jury. "I think he should be brought to justice in the U.S.A., but he should not even get to stand trial because he did not give us a chance," Pamela Martin said.
   Melissa McNeal is not concerned whether bin Laden gets a trial; she just wants to see him punished. "He should be tormented for every single person that died that day," McNeal said. "It still tears me up."
   James Hunter was on the U.S.S. Teddy Roosevelt, the first aircraft carrier to be deployed after Sept. 11 and returned to East Tennessee four months ago. One year after he left to fight terrorism Hunter believes his country has made strides toward healing, but knows it will never be the same. "We are making a pretty good comeback right now, but I do not think we have fully recovered. We probably never will," Hunter said. "It is sitting in the backs of people's minds right now. It is kind of like a bad dream and it is going to be hard to make it go away."